Jets’ Bilal Powell to undergo season-ending neck surgery, career could be in jeopardy

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets running back Bilal Powell’s season is over. And there’s a chance his career might be, too. 

Powell was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, and coach Todd Bowles said Powell will have neck surgery in the near future. 

Bowles said that there’s a chance Powell’s career could be in jeopardy. 

“It’s possible,” Bowles said. “We’ll see how the surgery goes.” 

Powell has a disk injury in his neck. According to Bowles, it’s similar to the bulging disk that kept receiver Quincy Enunwa out all of last season. Enunwa made a full recovery from surgery and was back on the field this season. There’s no guarantee Powell’s story will end the same way. 

“This may be worse, we’ll see,” said Bowles, who said Powell has been dealing with stingers. “I don’t know. He’s got to get surgery. …It’s not the first time it’s come up. It’s been a recurring injury. This time it happened to be bad.” 

This is just the latest of several key injuries to hit the Jets. And it’s a costly one. Powell was one of their most versatile offensive players and one of their top weapons. He’s also the longest-tenured player in the Jets locker room, and one of the most respected.

“Football-wise, anytime you lose a starter — Bilal was one of the hardest workers on this team — it’s a big blow from that standpoint,” Bowles said. “But you worry more about the person healing than you do about the football player, so that’s more of where we’re at.”

Powell left Sunday’s loss to the Vikings in the second quarter and did not return. Even if he does make a full recovery, there’s a chance he’ll never play another down with the Jets. 

He’s in the final year of his contract and turns 30 on Saturday. There’s a chance the Jets could be looking for a younger option at running back, either in the draft or free agency where they’re projected to have nearly $100 million to spend. Powell was drafted by the Jets in the first round of the 2011 draft. No other player on the current roster was with the Jets before 2013. 

Without Powell, the Jets’ running back corps is extremely shorthanded. Only Isaiah Crowell and rookie Trenton Cannon are on the active roster at the moment. Elijah McGuire started practicing with the team last week, but he won't be eligible to return from injured reserve for a game until next weekend in Miami. 

Bowles said the team is comfortable carrying just the two running backs into Sunday’s game against the Bears, but didn’t rule out the possibility of signing a running back or elevating someone from the practice squad in the coming days. De’Angelo Henderson is the only running back on the practice squad. 

The injury will mean a bigger role for Crowell. He had Powell had split the reps through the first seven games of the season — Crowell had 81 carries, Powell had 80. Now, Crowell will have to be the main guy. He returned to practice fully Wednesday after being limited the last two weeks by an ankle injury. 

In his eight seasons with the Jets, Powell has 791 carries for 3,446 yards and 15 touchdowns and caught 204 passes for 1,567 yards and five touchdowns. He had 80 carries for 343 yards and no touchdowns this season. He also had 11 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.

The Jets signed safety Ibraheim Campbell to fill Powell's roster space.

The loss of Powell is just the latest setback for a team that has been decimated by injury over the last month.

Starting cornerback Trumaine Johnson missed the last three games with a quad injury, and starting cornerback Buster Skrine missed the last two with a concussion. Starting safety Marcus Maye (broken thumb) and starting wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (high ankle sprain) likely won't play until after the team's Week 11 bye. The Jets placed Doug Middleton on injured reserve Tuesday with a pectoral injury.

Josh Martin, who was projected to start the season at outside linebacker, suffered two concussions in four weeks and is out for the season after playing only one game. And the Jets also cut Terrelle Pryor last week because of a groin injury.

But losing Powell seemed to shake the locker room a little bit more.

“Man, it’s a sad thing to see that just because BP is so respected in this locker room,” Jets quarterback Sam Darnold said. “He’s just such great guy to have on the team, that’s first and foremost. But then him as a player, he’s amazing as well. So it just sucks in general to see that happen to anyone, but especially BP it’s — it hurts a little bit.”

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